~ Dr. Christina Vlahopoulos, ND
It is really hard to think about fresh local vegetables and farmer’s markets when it is still snowing out but believe it or not, it is that time of the year again – time to sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Although the ground is still covered in snow, farmers in our area are gearing up for a new season in the hopes of growing and selling amazing produce this summer.
Generally speaking, less than 10% of food imported into Canada is inspected. Furthermore, “product of Canada” doesn’t necessarily mean, “grown in Canada.” What the CSA provides is an alternative to produce being picked too early and shipped for hundreds if not thousands of kilometers before making it to your kitchen. If you are not familiar with the concept of CSA, it is a great way to get fresh, seasonal, organic vegetables and support a local farmer.
Each farm is slightly different but most CSA farms require people to sign up and become a member for the year. Each member is then entitled to a share of the farm’s harvest from that growing season. Some farms also include eggs, meat herbs, honey and maple syrup as part of the share. By paying upfront (or in some cases in installments), the farm can then focus on farming and bringing the member the freshest, healthiest produce possible. Not only does the member support the farmer, the farmer supports the economy, which in turn supports the entire community. CSA also helps the environment by requiring less produce to be shipped in which means less harmful emissions – all in all this means greater health for the individual. To see a listing of all the local CSA farms, what they offer and how to contact them, please visit www.csafarm.ca.
Finally, if you are not sure if the CSA program is right for you, you can always visit the Memorial Centre Farmers Market (MCFM) this summer. All vendors at the MCFM have grown and/or produced their goods within 100km from Kingston. Whether you join a CSA or visit the MCFM this year, buying local food builds food security within Kingston and in doing so it also builds a stronger community.